Thursday, October 13, 2011


It's been a week since we lost you. It's been a week since my impatience cost you your life. I wish every day, every minute I could go back in a time machine and change that day, change just those few short minutes that shattered everything.

We only had the privilege of having you in our lives for one year, one full season, but in that year you touched our lives and hearts in so many ways. Our house is so still without your crazy busy energy, always quick to engage someone in a game of tag, or chase, stealing Tabitha's rabbit fur change purse every chance you got, or sniffing out food and getting into it, no matter how high it was placed, or how much you were NOT supposed to be into it, or just snuggling into a lap, or on a bed (warm bodies and pillows preferred).

Doing everything you could to try and go home with Grandpa Herzog, you knew you had him wrapped around your delicate little paw.

If I could just go back, and have you here again with us, I wouldn't begrudge cleaning up the garbage you would strew all over the house, every single time the garbage slider wasn't pushed fully into the cupboards, or the disaster you would turn my house into, in your frantic attempts to find us, when we left you home alone and you escaped your kennel (how did you do that anyways?)

You hated to be left alone, always game to go somewhere, so long as it was with us. Didn't matter what mode of transportation it may be. While riding in the van, you amused yourself, and us, snapping at flies, chewing up my green peppers when they just "happened" to roll your way under the van seat.... rolling down the automatic windows whenever it suited you best so you could let your floppy ears flap in the breeze, busy little nose sniff-sniffing, then taking a nap up on the dash like a kitty, silly girl.

It's why it hurts so much to have to have buried you alone now, when being alone was something you hated to be, so much. We buried you next to Old Kye, and Sabu.

I wish I would have gotten a video of you climbing the ladder to the kids' playcenter, and then sliding down the slide with them. A reminder to do things right away, and not put them off-because tomorrow doesn't always come.

You won Leroy's heart, though he wouldn't say as much, when you growled, so low and fierce at him, when he would come home late at night and peek in at Jesse. We knew every bone in your little body was fiercely loyal.

You weren't "just a dog" you were one of the family, which is why this is so hard. You were so young and had your whole life ahead of you-Jesse always asked "how old will Jewel live to be? How old will I be then?" We looked forward to watching you grow up with the kids.

Your name rolled off the kids' tongues so many times a day, especially from Jesse, and usually with humour and love.

Jesse misses you so much, he says he has trouble sleeping without his Jewel. I know he misses giving you rides on the quad, and dreaming about chasing rabbits with you.

Everything happened so suddenly, and with so much finality-no chance to turn it around, or say goodbye, or process it, and I was the cause of it-not like with Sabu, where I knew I was releasing her from a hurting body, and yet even then felt as though I was betraying her, not like with Kye, whom it hurt so much to lose, yet we had had the grace of so many many good years together.

The images and horror from the day we lost you have yet to dim, and still haunt me. I know you were such a sweet tempered, forgiving little thing, you wouldn't wish that. But they still persist. I'm still in shock-still can't believe that I will never see your beautiful, glossy, particoloured figure that almost never quit moving, that I can't call your name and have you come racing up from playing with Copper in the pasture, to the step and sit wiggling, waiting to be let in.

I hope there is a doggy heaven, and you are there right now, getting all the dogs wound up in a grand old game of chase, with lots of good things for you to scent out and gobble up, and warm beds with lots of pillows for you to lay on and stretch out and sigh.

Rest in peace, sweet girl, our Jewel.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Midwifery in Alberta need YOUR help!!

Ok-I am ABSOLUTELY FED UP with healthcare in Alberta!! It is an absolutely crappy system, that much talk has been made about, and very little action taken (case in point-my grandpa was just taken by ambulance to the hospital yesterday, where he waited for 5 fricken hours to be seen!!) Come on, people. Let me reiterate-BY AMBULANCE!! Oh yeah-this is the same hospital where they CLOSED SHARED CARE MATERNITY in, one of the most wonderful maternity programs EVER-why? Supposedly to remedy the emergency shortage. Um hmm...

Well, here's another attack on expectant mothers and families in Alberta, from our wonderful government-they are randomly approving and denying midwifery graduates of MCU (Midwifery College of Utah) the right to practice in Alberta. Claire Vessaire of Birth Issues has explained it much better than I in this letter she sent out, which will be copied and pasted below. The bottom line is:
Alberta needs more midwives! Even more so than ever, with the HUGE loss to women and babies and FAMILIES of the Stony Plain Westview Health center birthing rooms. And this political jerking around of midwifery students is absolute GARBAGE!! I would appreciate it if as many of my friends who can, would please help me show support for these 5 midwives. Even if you aren't having any more babies, or have other preferences for birth-someone in your life (sister, friend, daughter) may wish for the services of a midwife, and not have them available. My sincere thanks in advance!!

Dear Midwifery Supporters:
I am writing to you today to ask for your support. It will take 5 minutes of your time. There are five graduate midwives in Alberta, four of whom reside in Edmonton and one who lives in Cardston who need your help. These five midwives have been denied registration to work as a midwife in Alberta by the Midwifery Health Disciplines Committee (MHDC). They have made an appeal of this decision to the Health Disciplines Board. This appeal will take place on Thursday, October 20th at 9:15am at 100025 Jasper Avenue in Edmonton. Background information: Midwifery education in Canada has been a troubling issue for many years. It has taken over 20 years for each province to legislate and fund midwifery under provincial health care and there still remain some provinces and territories with no midwifery legislation. Currently, there are only five provinces with midwifery education programs, many of which have less than 10 graduates per year. As you may know, Alberta has only just started their midwifery education program at Mount Royal University this September (2011), with an intake of a mere 14 students. This has led many women seeking an education in midwifery to go outside their province or country. The Alberta Association of Midwives had 21 student members as of early 2011. Twenty of these students are internationally trained, mostly in the US. The Midwives College of Utah (MCU) is a US based midwifery education program offered by distance. MCU has had 32 Canadian students enrolled in their programs in the last year. Some of these students have graduated and successfully registered as midwives in their own provinces. Others have quit due to the unknown route to registration once graduated.

There have been 13 Alberta graduates of MCU in the last 20 months. Seven of these graduates have been granted registration by the MHDC. Six of them have been denied, solely based on the education program from which they graduated. This is arbitrary and unfair.

I am asking you to write a letter of support to the Health Disciplines Board for these five midwifery graduates who are involved in this appeal. The appeal is not a public affair but the legal council for the graduates has asked for written submissions to support their case. Below you will find a FORM LETTER that you can copy-date-sign and email to the Midwifery Students' Association of Alberta at Be sure to include your full name, address, and contact information in your letter, otherwise it may not be valid. It is also very effective to write your own letter telling your personal story. Why do you support midwifery and why do we need more midwives in Alberta? You can send this to the same email address listed above.
You can find more information at
Finally, become a fan of our Facebook page at

Please send your letter in no later than Monday, October 10th.

***FORM LETTER*******************************************************************
[Your Full Name]
City, Province, Postal Code
Phone number
October 4, 2011
Alberta Health Disciplines Board
Alberta Health and Wellness
17th Floor, North Tower Telus Plaza
10025 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton AB T5J 2N3

Subject: Letter of support for Midwifery Graduates.
As a(n) [Albertan citizen, mother/father, childbirth professional, etc.] I would like to indicate my strong support for the Alberta Midwifery Graduates who have formally made an appeal to the Alberta Health Disciplines Board.
These five graduate midwives have been denied registration to work as a midwife in Alberta by the Midwifery Health Disciplines Committee (MHDC). I find this decision shocking. Not even a year after the wait-time and emergency debates were opened we are yet again witness to the lack of transparency in Alberta politics as well as Alberta Health and Wellness’ unwillingness to follow due process.
I fear that if the Alberta Health Disciplines Board upholds the recommendation forwarded by the Midwifery Health Disciplines Committee, Alberta women and families will be sacrificed. Waiting lists for midwives in Alberta can be as long as 40 names per month. If we had these five extra midwives in Alberta more women would be able to have timely access to midwifery services and this would be consistent with Alberta Health’s desire to offer care and choice to all Albertan families.
Many of these families are being put into a situation where they either have to leave their jobs and wait in the urban settings, at a huge expense to themselves and Alberta, or have to brave our winter road conditions to make it to a hospital. They are endangering themselves and their babies. Having community trained midwives who drive to them would fill the gap that is currently faced by Alberta Health in rural areas.
Finally, I would like to address the issue of transparency and due diligence. I rely on Alberta Health to be leaders in providing safe medical options in Alberta. To me, safety is not only possible through skill acquisition but also through clear and transparent accountability to its patients. How can there be 7 new registrants from the Midwives College of Utah (MCU) in Alberta in the last 20 months yet 6 applicants from that same program have been denied in the same time period solely on the basis of their program? On the one hand I am told that MCU is a problem, but on the other hand MHDC has continued to give licenses to MCU graduates.
Whatever the real reasons behind the refusal of these recent MCU graduates, I feel that the Alberta Health Disciplines Board should not punish the graduates for the MHDC’s biases and structural issues.
I ask the Alberta Health Disciplines Board to not only review their decision but to also grandmother these students into the Alberta Registered Midwifery community. Thank you.
Yours sincerely,
[Your Full Name]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cute cow joke...

This is a bit more rique than what I usually post :) but I think it's cute, and besides-my Mom sent it to me!


It was my first time ever

And I'll
Never forget

I'd do it

Without a
Single regret.

The sky was

The moon
Was high

We were all

Just she
And I.

Her hair
Was soft

Her eyes
Were blue

I knew just

She wanted
To do.

Her skin so

Her legs so

I ran my

Down her

I didn't
Know how

But I tried
My best

I started
By placing

My hands on
Her breast

I remember
My fear

My fast
Beating heart

But slowly
She spread

Her legs

And when I
Did it
I felt no shame

All at

The white
Stuff came.

At last
it's finished

It's all
Over now

My first
Time ever

At milking
A cow...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Baby's here!!

We finally got to meet that sweet lil person who was kicking inside of me all those months, plus all those extra days!

Luke James Ulmer arrived right at lunchtime-12:14 pm-on Thurs, May 26th, 2011, measuring 21" long, and weighing 7 lbs, 6oz-breaking big brother Wyatt's record for my biggest baby by 4 oz!

His birth story is below for you birth junkies!! Otherwise, feel free to skip the story, and enjoy the photos at the top of this page!

On Monday, I met with my midwife, as planned, for my first NST (non stress test) just to be certain everything was ok with our baby who was supposed to have shown up sometime around May 13th, but, despite a couple of very real feeling false alarms, still wasn't here. The U/S tech had given me a different due date of May 23rd, so I wasn't too concerned, and didn't want to do anything extra, other than a few home remedies, to try and bring labour on myself. The midwife was respectful and supportive, and baby handled the NST very well, including the contractions I was having during the test. Other than going to sleep, and needing a boost from a drink of juice to get moving again! Home we went, just planning on waiting it out-surely it couldn't be much longer?

Wednesday was my 2nd NST, and baby again did very well. But in discussing things w/my midwife, she mentioned that they were required to consult with an OB after 2 weeks overdue, and that would be Fri. (the O/B would likely recommend pitocin augmentation-I DID NOT want that! I also didn't want to have to consult w/an O/B at all, if I could possibly avoid it!!) Also, that the later baby went, the stronger the possibility of there being meconium in my amniotic fluid, which would mean I couldn't have a waterbirth-which I couldn't imagine not having!! She was still fine w/waiting, but needed to make sure I knew the whole picture and could make an informed decision. I really appreciated that! I (rather skeptically!, I'll admit!) decided that I would try their special lemon verbena cocktail, which required a trip to the grocery store for extra supplies. I was a bit disappointed-I've never needed augmentation to go into labour before, and kind of confused as to what was up with my body.... Still, the thought of meeting our new little one really excited me, so I contacted my sister to put her on the alert, and took our kids to Grandma's house, b/c I had gone to the midwives clinic for a quick U/s to be certain babe was headdown, and the midwife there (the same sweet lady who attended Wyatt's birth), had seemed pretty certain that the cocktail would work-and possibly quite quickly b/c of the number of babies I've had. I decided to try it that night, b/c I was feeling impatient, and a bit like the clock was ticking.

The first dose went down quickly and easily-it hadn't tasted awful the way I'd imagined! Then I waited-and waited-and waited-for something to happen. Still nothing. I requested my DH's assistance one more time in the matter, and even that wasn't helping. 5 hours later, I tried a 2nd dose. It felt heavier in my tummy, and half an hour later, it came back up-ugh! I didn't want to try another dose, b/c I didn't know how much I'd absorbed, and really-I was beginning to feel "over" the whole thing! I was actually still feeling hungry though, so I made us a late meal of BBQ chicken wraps, w/cheese and lettuce, then fell asleep on my DH's lap while he watched a movie.

I woke up around midnight and put my head on his shoulder, complaining to him that NOTHING had happened, not even one teeny tiny contraction, and that I would just be pregnant forever. Two minutes later, a long, strong contraction hit! Then a short while later-another one. And then another. Excitedly, I called my sister and woke her up, and then called my midwife's hotline, and woke her up. I laboured at home for a bit longer, and the contractions were quite regular, and there was some bloody show! YAY!! I roused my DH, and off to Westview health center we went!! I remember how clear and fresh, and beautiful the Spring night was, and hearing the frogs chirping in our pond, before happily getting in our van. Surely this was it-finally!! the midwives met us at the hospital, and sister and I walked for a bit, before I requested they run a strip if they needed to, in case things got intense quick. The strip went well (other than baby going to sleep, just as at my other NSTs). My contractions were very regular. I also had them check my cervix-I was at a 5! YAY! Halfway there! Baby's head was still high, so I focused on doing lunges, and deep squats-anything to try and bring baby's head lower!

Sister walked with me all the long night. But my contractions began to slow down, and not hit so hard. I tried taking a pulsatilla spray. Then birth prep homeopathic tablets, every 10 min from 4:30 am on til about 6:10 am, where I finally gave up and had a nap. I would have a good contraction when I took the tablet, and then maybe one more, but they were slowing and calming, and nothing was helping. Sister tried to encourage me, that every contraction did something, and I knew she was right-but I was just so frustrated. I didn't want to have a nap, I wanted to have my baby! And I felt bad for dragging everyone out and up all night to labour with me-only to once again have my contractions stop! in the morning after a long night, no less!! And baby's head was still high! Had I accomplished anything? I'd never had this happen in labour before, and I really wondered what was going on?? Were we ever going to meet this apparently rather stubborn babe?

Leroy had to go move the kids to Great Grandma Ulmer's, and I had him stop at home to pick up my ingredients for the verbena induction method (hadn't thought I'd need them again). He came back with them, and the plan was-to run another strip, check my cervix, me to have breakfast and then take the verbena cocktail again, and start all over. My midwife was so encouraging- "it's a new day, we'll start fresh". Everyone was so tired, and yet so positive and uplifting for me. My sister predicted baby would get there around noon.

Baby had been bouncing around in my tummy, really active-right up until the midwife put the belts for the machine around my belly. And then, just as before-went promptly to sleep, and did NOT want to wake up!! I joked that I was gonna get a machine like that for after baby was born!! As soon as the strip was run and the belts came off-yes, you guessed it-baby woke right up and was bouncing around again!! An absolute rascal, the midwife said, and we all agreed!! He just didn't want to co operate with anything! Complete mind of his own!!

The sweet midwife who had attended Wyatt's birth, and who had done the quick U/S for me the afternoon before, was the back up midwife for my midwife team's births, and she had come in, in the morning, and was helping me, while everyone else tried to catch a bit of a rest, and Sister went to a quick appt she had in Spruce Grove. I had breakfast, and noted that my contractions had picked up-without even taking the verbena cocktail! This midwife checked my cervix, and I was at a stretchy 6, baby's head seemed a bit lower, and the contractions were every 7-8 minutes-and getting longer and stronger when I walked! She put me back to bed, until she could get everyone back there for me!! This was all occurring at around 9:30 am. Once everyone (who had barely left!) returned, I continued to labour in different positions, "dancing" with Sister and Leroy, focusing on going on hands and knees quite a bit, still trying to get baby to drop down. I then had a contraction that had me wanting to climb the walls, and Sister said "I think it's time for the tub!" I wasn't so sure, I did NOT want my labour to slow again. She said (as she often does!) you worry too much! and encouraged me to get in if I wanted. I was really glad I did, b/c the next contraction was also tougher to get thru, and the water was so soothing.

Shortly after, I had a really "pushy" feeling contraction, and I mumbled "pushy". The other midwives had already come in the room though-they said they had heard a noise that sounded "pushy". Each subsequent contraction felt pushier, and we waited for that big cushiony water bag to break and bring baby's head down-and it didn't... I was getting frustrated again, and said "it feels like this baby is really making me work!". One midwife said I could break my own water if I wished, but that didn't appeal to me, so I had her do it for me on the next contraction. That was a tough contraction, I needed to change positions so she could break the sac, and as soon as the amniotic fluid-clear!-had drained, baby's head hit my cervix and labour got a whole lot more intense!! With Sister's help, I was able to get back on hands and knees, and from then on, it just felt like one long hard contraction, and push. One midwife did ask, if I could feel a break in the contractions, if she could get in there and check heartbeat with a doppler again-but there was no break, and I couldn't move, or talk. I could hear everyone whispering encouragement and soothing words, and baby was being born. I was squeezing Leroy's hand to bits, and Sister was videoing for me... As baby was born, something made me yelp ow!-the midwife needed to untangle baby's cord from around his neck. He had just one loop, but it was rather tight... Then they were bringing baby forward for me, and helping me to lean back to get a better look. I felt between his little legs, and, besides the cord... yup-it's another boy, I announced. He was chubby (I had thought so, the little foot that kicked me so strongly felt chubbier than my other babies, who have had long bony feet), with a dark head of hair, teeny ears, and dark, slate eyes. Perfect-and very healthy! He had good colour from birth, even with the tight cord, and as the midwife was helping me, he reached and grabbed her hand!

I got to sit and admire him while they arranged to cut the cord (Leroy isn't into that, so Sister happily did it), and then delivered the placenta in the water. Leroy held baby skin to skin while I was doing that (oh, he and baby looked so good like that!) and then into bed to get to hold and nurse and admire our new little man, who had no trouble latching on, and nursed happily. Born just shortly after noon, just like Sister had predicted!! And the first one of our babies to be born during daylight hours!!

Of course, baby had pooped all over the blankets Daddy was holding him in, and was no sooner cleaned up-but did it again!! And later, once everyone had left, he had filled the little diaper we had put him in soo much that it overflowed and coated him with meconium yet again-the midwife kindly cleaned him up for me, but said she didn't think she'd ever seen so much poop all at once!! He was covered! Still being a little stinker!

I was able to leave 4 short hours after baby was born. The midwives were so wonderful with their aftercare also, and it was so fun to see them hold and cuddle baby like proud Aunties when I needed to set him down, instead of just putting him in a warmer.

He had a huge welcoming commitee when we got to Grandma Ulmer's! I wished I had brought my camera in to snap a shot of the kids, who circled his car seat to admire and exclaim over the new arrival!! Tabitha took the news that she didn't get a baby sister with great grace-she is such a mother hen, and was just so smitten with this little baby no matter the gender, and Jacob was fine with baby so long as he could still crawl into Daddy's arms. Wyatt stroked the baby's downy head and said "look-I'm petting him nicely!" and Jesse wanted to know whether he himself had been bigger or smaller than the new little one at birth. Grandma had made a nice supper, so we all sat down to eat. Baby was napping through all this, so we didn't take him out of his car seat-we'll need to take him to visit Grandma again soon, so she can get her baby cuddle fix!

So we are home and enjoying our new little one very much. I am especially struck with this birth with awe and gratitude for my whole birth team, who were so patient, and kind, and helpful and encouraging, for me, throughout this rather challenging, and yet absolutely beautiful birth.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Silly Sheep

Went out for a walk to the far end of the pasture, hoping to encourage contractions (this was mainly unsuccessful!). Tabitha accompanied me. The lambs weren't visible from the other side, so we were just checking on them. As we came closer, we realised why they weren't visible-they were rolling and playing in a big dirt divot in the pasture-yes, my white lambies were all dirty. As we neared, they stopped their play, and ran to their mothers in alarm!! Only, in their panic-they BOTH made the same mistake-the same thought crossed both Tabitha's and my mind at the same time, and you could see, the ewes' a second later-Tabitha looked up at me in surprise, and said-"they ran to the wrong mamas, Mommy!" And indeed they had!! Hilarious!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bundle of bunnies!!

What happens when a couple of enterprising farm kids decide they need bunnies....

My kids came running in, yelling, "Good news, mommy, good news!! We've got baby bunnies!!"

The thought that crossed my mind was "how?" I had put two does (sisters) in one cage, and I had a buck in another, very separate cage. I then decided I must be an idiot, and had mis-sexed one of the does, and ran a pair together. Filled now with self doubt-I mean seriously, I've checked A LOT of rabbits, and I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing! I went out to see a huge nest full of bunnies (the mom is Flemish Giant).

Jesse exclaimed how "now we can sell them and make money!!"

Still puzzling over this "miracle", I went in and called my husband. His response? "Oh, yeah, I saw the kids letting the boy rabbit (a dutch) "play" in the girls' hutch". He saw the rabbits "playing" and didn't say anything? LOL!!

At least I no longer doubt my abilities to tell the gender of the rabbits....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Still waiting....

With becoming more active on Facebook, I often forget to update my blog. Anyways, here's my most recent pic posted on FB. Our new babe is hanging in there, perhaps waiting to share his or her big brother Jacob's birthday on the 18th.

40 weeks, baby # 5

Had some excitement Saturday night, with a few hours of regular contractions, but they petered out and haven't had so much as a twinge since....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

One of my favourite books of all time, even from when I was a child, is "The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes" by Du Bose Heyward, illustrated by Marjorie Flack.
My family enjoys having me read it aloud too, not just at Easter, although, being as part of it's theme is about Easter Bunnies, it is often pulled out around here at that time (yes, I do know the true meaning of Easter, and we do make certain to make sure our kids know how important this time of year is because of Jesus' sacrifice-but we do still enjoy Easter eggs and bunnies too!-no thanks to anyone who feels the need to "set me straight" :) )

This book is about a little mama country bunny, who grows up to have a lot of little bunnies!! As a young bunny, her dream had been to become an Easter bunny. But, when she grows up and gets busy taking care of her growing family, this dream is put on the back burner, and she is even made fun of for having so many babies!! She is a wonderful mommy bunny, however, who does a terrific job teaching her little ones to do things to help around the house, and no doubt her experiences with her little ones help her to grow in patience, and kindness, and wisdom-and even swiftness, as she chases all her little ones!! Then-she is given an opportunity to become an Easter bunny-her dream come true!! And because of all she is and has learned, and because of how well she has raised her little bunnies-she is actually able to experience this dream!
It is just a beautiful book (the illustrations are as lovely as the description of this wonderful little mama country bunny), and so inspirational! I very much want to be just like the kind, wise, sweet mama bunny described within it's pages!

(as a side note-Marjorie Flack has written or illustrated several other books that our family also enjoys, including "Angus Lost" "The Story About Ping" and "Ask Mr. Bear")

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Recommendation

I found this sweet little paperback book at a thrift store, several months ago. I finally decided to pick it up and read it (figured the timing was appropriate, with our new little one's birthday coming up so soon!!) It is titled "In Celebration of Babies", written by Carol Tannenhauser and Cheryl Moch. It's a beautiful little compilation of poetry, quotes, snippets of advice, and stories, written by beloved poets, famous celebrities, and also many lesser or even unknown authors. The beauty of the book is enhanced with gorgeous photos and paintings of babies, along with mothers, fathers and others. Some of the literary works shared are whimsical, others more grounded. Some light, and others darker. An excerpt from the back cover "Moving, wise, witty, timeless-In Celebration of Babies is for anyone who has ever smiled at a baby's cribside or remembered a mother's lullaby." I'm really enjoying it, and just had to share a recommendation! :)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

It's a.....



We had a surprise this morning! Wonder, our Canadian mare, (aka LDR Ghost Premiere) gave birth! This is a blessing that all of us, most especially Wonder, have been wishing, hoping and longing for, for a very long time!! Wonder is the mare I have mentioned in previous posts, who steals calves to mother, and who also did her best to care for Wishes when he lost his dam, Neena, Wonder's sister. It took us a long time to get her into foal, only to have her miscarry twins at 9 mos along last year. We were uncertain for quite awhile this year as to whether she was bred or not. Even last nite, she was showing no signs of her udder filling, and, other than kicking at the stallion in annoyance, didn't seem to be up to anything unusual!


(Aww! Nursies!)

The letter the foal's name is to begin with this year is "Y". Miss Tabitha is NOT impressed with this system of nomenclature, b/c she thinks the little tyke should be named "Nike" after a horse in one of her favourite books!! (For those wondering-there is a specific way Canadian horses are to be named. The first part of their name is derived from the name of the farm that owned the mare at the time of breeding. This is why Wonder's prefix is LDR, even though she was foaled at our house. (On our anniversary actually! Her dam was wonderful, and let me watch the birth!) The second part of the name is the name of the stallion. In Wonder's case, her sire was Humeny Blackjack Ghost. The final part of the name can be whatever the owner wishes-but must start with a designated letter for that year. In Wonder's case it was "P", so we came up with "Premiere" as she was our first Canadian foal. (we call her "Wonder" though, b/c at first, not realising that the letter was "P" and not "O", (which is never used), I had been mistakenly calling her "Oneder"). She is also our "Wonder" filly, b/c we almost lost her as a two week old foal. The vet was shocked that, with the high temperature she had, that she was even standing. So it was a "Wonder" she even made it!


(Look at those loooong legs!!)

Two years ago, when Wishes was born, I was rather certain he would be a colt, b/c our Jacob, born only a couple days earlier, had been a boy, and we had sort of a boy theme going on with the births around our place. I wonder (secretly hope! :) ) if the same thing will happen this year as well-that our excitedly awaited new baby will be the same gender as this year's foal? In any case, seeing Wonder out, so proud and happy being a mama, really and truly, FINALLY, brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful!!


(One proud Mama horse!!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

We didn't do anything "special" per se. Both of us were too tired for flowers and chocolates and dates....
But the beautiful, Spring like day we were gifted with lifted spirits-for me, there's something magical, about being pregnant, and the excitement and expectant feeling brought by fresh spring air...
Leroy wanted me to come see the calves his cows had produced at the farm. One calf looked gaunt, like it hadn't nursed, and his dam's udder was tight and shiny on all four quarters, taut teats sticking straight out. Leroy caught the cow, an older, but good looking, and fairly quiet Hereford, and haltered her-no easy task on the slippery footing the drastic weather changes we've been experiencing, had produced. He then tied her up and offered her some grain. I helped milk her a bit, to ease the pressure. The calf was resistant at first, to the idea (I think maybe the cow's udder was so tender she'd pushed him away a few times), but soon, we were able to convince him, the smell of milk on my hands probably helped entice him, and I would let him suck on my fingers, then place them on the cow's udder, where he would transfer his attentions. When it looked like he was well on his way to being able to return to the udder on his own, we left the sweet pair, to go check if there were any other new babies. My fingers were still coated with calf slobber (that stuff is bionic! LOL!!), and as we walked, Leroy reached for my hand. He quickly pulled it away though, at the slimy feel of my hand!! I giggled, and then he helped me dry my hands on his jeans, and we continued on, checking for new bovine babies together...
Probably not what most people would describe as all that romantic! But it just felt so right, and was so enjoyable, working together as a team, just having time to be together on a beautiful day, while our busy children played in the snow just outside the corrals!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Mini Pantry Challenge

I've been doing a "mini" or "semi" pantry challenge since before Christmas. I say "mini" b/c I'm not being perfectionistic, and not buying ANYTHING-but I've very much limited what I buy. I probably should be living like this more, seeing as (duh!) I always have a freezer full of beef, usually pork and chicken too... But I find it hard sometimes to really focus on using EVERYTHING in the freezers, so often times things like short ribs get overlooked, til that's all that's left... And of course all the stuff in the pantry-I don't like to run out, so sometimes I end up with doubles and triples....
Anyways, my "rules" are to make meals using as much stuff on hand as possible, even to the point of making my own if need be (like homemade brown sugar) but if I'm out of something (like worcestershire sauce) I won't drive myself crazy, and will buy it....
By doing this, I've cut our grocery spending from about $400.00/month for our family of 6, soon to be 7! :) to around $60.00/month (I HAVE to have fresh fruits and veggies though! LOL!)
(the cut in spending is a good thing too, 'cause money has been crazy tight lately-between utilities, and taxes, UGH!!)

I've also been doing a lot of my own "specialty" breads-I've always made bread, but my attempts at specialty breads have tended to be abject failures up til now, when I've found a few good sites that have walked me thru the steps better, and it is SUCH a good feeling to make these yummy delights for so much less than you can buy them in the store!! For example-flour tortillas from
And English Muffins out of my "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" book-the recipe for the dough is in the book, the instructions are here:
and I refined my technique a little, using the instructions from here:

I've also pulled out my neglected, almost forgotten cast iron frying pan, which had been relegated to the camper for? I dunno, weight? 'Cause I certainly didn't use it, after I had a spat with it, when I tried frying eggs in it without properly seasoning it first!! I found some info that suggested lard is excellent for seasoning cast iron, and, as I always have a bunch of that around, (I render hog fat myself, in my crockpot), I used that and found how terrific it worked! Absolutely lovely, for both the tortillas and the english muffins!! And I'm actually enjoying using my cast iron frying pan, and longing for a few more items from Lodge Cast Iron cookware.... I have a completely new perspective now on why Don and Mom always seemed so doggone paranoid about their cast iron pans, as, I, as a teenager would "helpfully" scrub it down with soap.... LOL!!

Here's a list of some of the meals we've enjoyed during this challenge:

Beef Short Ribs, Pioneer Woman style:

Greek Chicken over Orzo, from "Cheap, Fast, Good" (one of my favourite cookbooks of all times!)

Sausage and Pepper Pasta, again from "Cheap, Fast, Good"

Cheryl's Tortellini and Spinach Soup, "Cheap, Fast, Good"

Enchanting Enchiladas "Cheap, Fast, Good"

Best Ever Roasted Chicken, with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Old Fashioned Gingerbread, all from "Cheap, Fast, Good". Served with Quick Rolls from my beloved Momy's cookbook, and Lemon Sauce for the Gingerbread made from my beloved Grandma Bailey's recipe.

Eggs Benedict, from

Chicken strips (from the freezer) served with homemade fries-I make my fries by slicing potatoes, parboiling them in water with a dash of sugar added (a trick I got from a book called "Miserly Moms"-it makes them taste similar to McDonald's fries!, and then frying them in my deepfryer

Honey Fried Walleye (Recipe from one of my Taste of Home books, walleye that we caught this summer on vacation!) served with coleslaw and again, homemade french fries.

Greek pork loin, from "Fix, Freeze, Feast" (it was already prepared, and waiting in my freezer!)
Served with Crash Hot potatoes, from , roasted garlic, and a greek salad, as well as french bread made from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day, served with bruschetta and a lovely bread dip from Healing Pixie, enhanced with Balsamic vinegar.

Biscuits and hamburger gravy (I basically used this recipe:
I made the seasoning for the hamburger gravy from a recipe in my Momy's cookbook-a bit spicy, but soo good and addicting!)

Honey Garlic Meatballs from "Life's on Fire, Cooking for the Rushed"

Honey Garlic broiled sausages (from "Life's on Fire, Cooking for the Rushed" (she uses a different sauce in her book, I think dry garlic? But we were just as happy with the honey garlic!) )

Stuffed peppers with Kielbasa, from "Cheap, Fast, Good"

Not all our suppers have been gourmet, of course. Some nights, I've been too doggone tired, so we've just had pancakes, or waffles, or whatever.

I've also been busy doing things like fruit leather, beef jerky, dehdrated dog treats, including making my own dessicated liver with my lovely Excalibur dehydrator! as well as doing smoothies, fruit pies, and crisps, oatmeal raisin cookies, etc, in order to get the stuff out of our freezers-did I mention we had 1.5 full sized chest freezers full, an apartment size freezer, full, a big upright freezer full, plus two refrigerator/freezer compartments, all stuffed full! LOL!!

I don't know that I've ever been more grateful to have a milk cow than now!! While I haven't done a lot of hard cheeses lately, lots of yogurt, and some soft cheeses have been helping us out greatly!!

My DH thinks we're eating better this way than ever before-I think it's cause I'm HAVING to plan and think more about meals! The downside is, it takes a LOT of energy, and time, and thinking...

Anyone else out there doing a pantry challenge? How is it going?? :)